A Safe Pair Of Hands Wins SHORT+SWEET 2009

A Safe Pair of Hands, a somewhat controversial re-telling of the Gallipolli “Simpson and his donkey” legend, was crowned the overall winner of Short + Sweet Sydney 2009 on Saturday night in front of a packed house of over 800 at the York Theatre of the Seymour Centre in Sydney.

Written by Pat Sheil, the man behind the Sydney Morning Herald’s Column 8, directed by talented newcomer Fleur Beaupert and starring stage and screen legend John Derum, A Safe Pair of Hands was awarded the Short + Sweet Award, for the best overall production of the festival considering overall, script, directing and acting.

Completing a wonderful double triumph Derum also took out the Best Actor award for his tour de force performance as “Slips” Cordon, a Gallipoli veteran who recalls a very different version of the events around Simpson and his famous donkey’s heroic exploits.

The other big winner on the night was Charle’s Freyberg’s moving and emotional The Rose - a tightly written, beautifully acted and touching play revisiting a friendship, love and life shared - which took out three awards. The play, which emerged from Short + Sweet’s ten minute play development process, Crash Test Drama, scored the Best Actor Runner Up award for Lynden Jones for his touching portrayal of a feisty artist struck down by a fatal disease as well as the Best Director award for Glynn Oram for his detailed and heart-wrenching production. Freyberg was also awarded Best Drama Script for his poetic and evocative text.

Marcello Fabrizi’s “Australian Seinfield” comedy North, about a very inner city couple who find themselves stranded in the bush, also took out two awards – Best Comedy script for Fabrizi, who also played the neurotic, bush-phobic male half of the duo, and Best Actor Runner-Up for Jess Macauley, as the stronger female half.

The Best Actress award went to Melbourne actress Carla Jane McCallum for her funny and heart-tugging performance as “Jen” a lonely, professional women who embarks on an unsteady journey into the world of internet dating and meets the man of her nightmares. Or is that dreams ? She also wrote the play WTF?!

In other awards the elegiac Remembering the Kites, by Singapore playwright Harry Allen, was named the Wildcards winner. With stunning performances from 83-year-old Peter Dye and his junior partner, 65-year-old Tim Hunter, with direction by Jennie Bazell, Remembering the Kites was a popular winner.

The People’s Choice Award for the most popular production in the festival, as chosen by audience vote, went to Adele Vuko’s The Guardians, an offbeat comedy about Lady Macbeth’s Guardian Angel and Guardian Demon, who also happen to be conjoined twins. No wonder she went insane! The cast featured Louise Molino as Angel, Will Howarth as Demon, Alex Wallace as Arch Angel Michael, Daniel Nemmes as Death and the talented Vuko, who also directed, as Lady Macbeth.

The Alex Broun Best New Talent award went to brilliant young director Felicity Nicol for her profound and deeply human production of Gala Finalist Greg Hardigan’s 49 stories about Brian McKenzie, featuring a breath-taking performance by Moss Halliday-Hall as Greg.

The Best Independent Theatre Company production went to another Gala Finalist, Rush of Blood Productions for Chocolate Face. With committed performances from Kristy Best and Tom Pelik, talented young writer-director Trent Atkinson’s incisive and confronting script, based on idea from Pelik, explored issues of racism, identity and love in the urban landscape of an Australian city.
After the awards Alex Broun, the Director of the festival, said Short + Sweet Sydney 2009 would go down as one of the most successful ever.

“This is the eighth Short+Sweet in Sydney and I think it will be remembered as one of the best” he said.

“The participants had a great time and learnt a lot from their experiences in the festival, we had sold-out very appreciative audiences right through the whole seven weeks and there was general agreement on the high quality of theatre produced.”

“From proposals on stage (Chris Pentonzi from Haircuts to his girlfriend Annabelle) to 94-year-old playwrights (Julia Britton), there was a wonderful feeling of camaraderie at this year’s festival that was a joy to be a part of.”

Broun, who has already committed to run Short + Sweet Sydney 2010, added: “At the end of this festival the wonderful crew, who have worked tirelessly over the last two months, and myself are feeling just a touch exhausted but so blessed has Short + Sweet Sydney 2009 been, and so positive have been our experiences, that we’re already looking forward to next year.”

“I’d just like to say a massive thank you to our wonderful artists – writers, directors, actors and crew – who have given their time ands talent to make Short + Sweet Sydney 2009 such a fantastic success.”

“In the end Short + Sweet is all about our participants and I hope they have enjoyed the festival as much as me.”


The Short + Sweet Award for Best Overall Production (considering script, acting and direction)
A Little Blue
The Rose
A Safe Pair of Hands
49 stories about Brian McKenzie

Winner: A Safe Pair of Hands (Written by Pat Sheil, Directed by Fleur Beaupert, Performed by John Derum)

Best Actor
Andrew Cutcliffe for The Rose
Marcello Fabrizi for North
John Derum for A safe pair of hands
Lynden Jones for The Rose

Runner Up: Lynden Jones for The Rose
Winner: John Derum for A Safe Pair of Hands

Best Actress
Jess Macauley for North
Carla Jane McCallum for WTF?!
Adele Vuko for The Guardians
Kristy Best for Chocolate Face
Cheree Cassidy for A Little Blue
Aishveryaa Nidhi for Mandragora

Runner Up: Jess Macauley for North
Winner: Carla Jane McCallum for WTF?!

Best Director
Jamie Oxenbould for North
Felicity Nicol for 49 stories about Brian Mckenzie
Glynn Oram for The Rose
Carl J Sorheim for The Struggle Within
Rene Hernandez and Cheree Cassidy for A Little Blue

Winner: Glynn Oram for The Rose

Best Comedy Script
David Bulmer for A little blue
Pat Sheil for A safe pair of hands
Carl J Sorheim for The Struggle within
Carla Jane McCallum for WTF?!
Marcello Fabrizi for North

Winner: Marcello Fabrizi for North

Best Drama Script
Greg Hardigan for 49 stories about Brian McKenzie
Charles Freyberg for The Rose
Harry Allen for Remembering the kites
David Sharpe for Mandragora

Winner: Charles Freyberg for The Rose

Wildcard Winner:
Remembering the Kites (by Harry Allen, Performed by Peter Dye and Tim Hunter, Directed by Jennie Bazell)

Alex Broun Best New Talent Award
Carl J Sorheim for Acting, Directing and Writing The Struggle Within
Felicity Nicol for Directing 49 Stories about Brian McKenzie
Anne-Maree Magi for Directing A Man’s Not a Fruit
David Sharpe for Writing Mandragora
Adele Vuko for Acting, Directing and Writing The Guardians
Roanna Dempsey for Acting in Birdmonster and Acting and Directing At the threshold
Simon Bossell for Writing-Directing Duals-Triptych
Moss Halliday-Hall for acting in 49 stories about Brian McKenzie
Winner: Felicity Nicol for Directing 49 Stories about Brian McKenzie
Best Independent Theatre Company
Adele Jade Productions for The Guardians
Rush of Blood productions for Chocolate Face
Cursed Cat Productions for Am I: Killer?
Elgin St. Theatre Company for The Resistible Rise of Verity Devlin
Flickering Lights for Adoration and Sacrifice in 10 Moments
Scott St Productions for Black & Blue
CoNats Comms for Haircuts

Winner: Rush of Blood productions for Chocolate Face (Written by Trent Atkinson, from an idea by Tom Pelik, Directed by Trent Atkinson, Performed by Tom Pelik and Kristy Best)

People’s Choice Winner

The Guardians
Written and directed by Adele Vuko
Presented by Adele Jade Productions
Performed by Louise Molino, Will Howrath, Alex Wallace, Daniel Nemmes, Adele Vuko

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